A Great Gift for this Grandpa
Christmas came late to our house. Sure, a couple of weeks ago we did the whole tree and lights and roast beast and piles of presents and visits from the in-laws and exclamations of “We’re never going to do this again!” and Christmas Eve candlelight service and stocking stuffers and exhaustion and now-come-the-bills and, well … yeah, we did all that.
But I received the best possible gift ever just this past weekend. It wasn’t wrapped in paper, tied with a bow or stuffed into a flannel stocking and hung from our fireplace. It didn’t even have a card or name tag attached. Nope. It was the gift of having each of our four adult kids and our four grandkids all together at our house on the same day, at the same time. Can you hear me smiling as you read this? I hope so.
You see, as a family we are a busy and far-flung bunch. Going from nearest to farthest away, our daughter, son-in-law and their 18-month old munchkin live “only” 36 miles from us in Santa Clarita. Our youngest son lives 125 miles away at his college in San Diego. Another son lives in Missoula where he attends the University of Montana, a less-than-conveniently traveled 1,215 miles from his La Crescenta roots. But the long-distance winner of our family is our oldest son, daughter-in-law and their three crumb-crunchers who live a whopping 3,927 miles away on the windward side of Oahu.
So, while it’s not exactly the four corners of the earth, our kids and grandkids live far enough away to make a visit from any of them something to anticipate, celebrate and treasure whenever we’re fortunate to have them come home – whether it’s for a couple of hours or a couple of weeks.
And yet this past weekend, a miracle of sorts happened. The parenting planets aligned and for one glorious afternoon and evening, the entire lot of us got together to reconnect, talk, catch up, play with grandkids, cousins, aunts and uncles, laugh until our jaws hurt and generally enjoy each other’s company after a long, long time apart. There was food on the table and football on TV. Cigars were smoked and stories swapped. It took nothing short of a cosmic convergence of conditions and scheduling to make the event happen, but happen it did. And it was oh, so very good.
Sadly, however, even the most wonderful of occasions must inevitably come to an end and ours was no exception. Our “kids” from Santa Clarita packed up the car, said their goodbyes and backed down our long driveway to head for home and much-needed rest prior to going back to their up-before-dawn jobs. Our youngest son disappeared into his room to begin packing his things for the next morning’s drive down to San Diego and the start of spring semester. Conversations waned. Last sips of lukewarm coffee were swallowed. Leftovers were bagged and distributed and utensils rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Wayward purses and cell phones were located. Favorite toys reclaimed. Hugs were dispensed all around – the more greedy of us shamelessly getting two or three from the same person. Promises were made to Facebook, text or – gasp! – even actually make a voice-to-voice call to each other. Sometime.
And then it was over. Even as I write this only days away from the Great Gathering of 2012, I’m fighting feelings of melancholy and sadness with the realization that I have no idea when – or even if – the scheduling stars might once again align to allow our family to get together all in one place at the same time. And yet, as I gain in years and (hopefully) wisdom, I realize more and more that it’s the very fleeting and transitory nature of these reunions that make them so special.
So, I’m not complaining. No, this is one hugely blessed, appreciative and grateful grandpa/dad to have had the privilege of a weekend like the one we just had.
I’ll see you ’round town.